Hoteliers demand aid now

Hoteliers in Attica, Evia and Loutraki have criticized the Finance Ministry for delaying legislation that earmarks state aid for the smaller hotels, encouraging them to modernize their facilities in preparation for the 2004 Olympic Games. «The Finance Ministry wishes to postpone indefinitely legislation endorsed by Parliament in October 2002 which provides for 3,000 euros per room in subsidies to hotels in category B and below that renovate their facilities,» the Attica Hotel Association, the Evia Hotel Association and the Loutraki Hotel Association said in a joint statement dated February 17. Hotels wishing to take advantage of the state subsidy must finish the renovation by February 28, 2004, six months before the Olympic Games kick off. The tight time schedule means the Finance Ministry must issue a ministerial ruling immediately in order to allow the smaller hotels enough time to finish their refurbishment, the hoteliers said. They also questioned the motives behind the ministry’s procrastination in implementing the legislation, which has the support of organizing committee Athens 2004 and the Culture and Development ministries. Accommodation for International Olympic Committee members and the rest of the Olympic family had been a source of concern for the IOC until recently. Greece last week said it had resolved the issue, with 15 hotels currently undergoing renovation and 11 under construction meeting the bulk of the demand. A fleet of luxury cruise ships moored at Piraeus is expected to provide an additional 6,500 rooms for Olympic visitors. Organizers said about 20,000 rooms will be needed for the extended Olympic family. The government has said it plans to encourage tourists to stay on the islands and make daily excursions to Athens for Olympic events.